Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
The Energiewende is a key component of climate change mitigation. Both aim to keep the impact of climate change on people, nature and the economy at a sustainable level. According to calculations by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global warming must be kept to at most 2°C above pre-industrial age temperatures. This means that only a certain amount of greenhouse gases can continue to be emitted. As the atmosphere already contains 65 percent of this amount, major global and national endeavours to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are needed.
Carbon dioxide, which is mainly caused by the burning of fossil fuels, has the greatest impact on climate change. In Germany and globally, more than a third of all greenhouse gases are emitted by power plants. This is why the shift to climate-neutral resources, such as renewable energies, is a key part of climate protection.
In signing the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, Germany undertook to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 21 percent compared with 1990 levels by 2012. Significant progress has been made since then. By 2017, Germany had already achieved a reduction of 28 percent. For every billion euros in sales, companies in Germany now generate only half the amount of greenhouse gases as they did in 1990.
greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030. Its aim is to reduce emissions by as much as 80 to 95 percent compared with 1990 levels by 2050. These national reduction targets are embedded in European and international climate protection policy. EU heads of state and government have resolved to reduce their countries’ greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and by at least 40 percent by 2030. In December 2015, 195 countries signed the Paris Agreement. With their respective mitigation targets, these countries want to limit global warming to well under 2°C over the course of this century.
Emissions trading, which caps the total amount of pollutant emissions by all participants in the system, is a key European instrument for combating climate change. All large-scale greenhouse gas emitters must participate in the system, which covers a large part of the CO2 emissions from industry and the energy sector. Companies must hold the right amount of emission allowances for every tonne of greenhouse gas they emit. If they do not have enough allowances, they can either buy more or invest in climate-protection technologies. This prevents CO2 emissions where it is cheapest. The aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent by 2030 compared with 2005 levels in all of the sectors in the emissions trading system.
The German Government has adopted the Climate Action Programme 2020 and the Climate Action Plan 2050 to enable Germany to meet its national reduction targets. The Climate Action Programme includes various measures to improve energy efficiency and make transport, industry and agriculture more climatefriendly. The Climate Action Plan contains longterm CO2 reduction targets for individual sectors, such as energy and manufacturing.